My role is to help clergy move on in their ministry. I find most clergy would regard themselves as having a calling and definitely not a career. One of the reasons for this is because career is associated with status, achievement and reward – which can sit uneasily alongside the sacrifice, obedience and humility of being called to the work of ministry.
Yet if we view a career as a series of employment-related experiences over time, where individuals and employers contribute to the overall benefit of the organisation, we can see that career fits the work of ministry too.
An important aspect of the work of the Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing will be supporting the career transition of individual clergy as they think about calling in the context of their working lives past, present and future.
Recent research into how clergy experience moving jobs in the Church of England, found that certain career factors are unique to clergy and make being a cleric on the move a particularly uncommon experience. Some examples are:
- Responding to God’s call to make a specific job change
- Understanding how to articulate that call in relation to your values, skills and interests
- Reconciling God’s call to ministry with feeling dissatisfied or confused
- Addressing the practicalities of moving on with being called to a role or place
- Identifying when to move on after a first incumbency
Some of the reasons for wanting to make a change may seem similar to workers in other occupations eg wanting to use your skills and talents in a new role, feeling ‘stuck’ and indecisive, seeking support as part of a significant life event. Yet talking about calling as part of a career conversation can directly benefit you, your congregations, colleagues, families and community.
Next time our focus will be on how to fulfil your career calling with clarity and confidence.
Dr Christine Blackie is a career counsellor working with individual clergy and church leaders responsible for clergy development. Find more information on Christine’s research and practice at www.christineblackie.com